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Mayors and council leaders in the north of England have criticised the government for failing to consult them on local lockdown measures, as they brace for further restrictions expected to be announced next week.
The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, accused the government of treating the city with disdain, saying new lockdown measures were being “imposed”.
Anderson said he expected Liverpool to be placed under tier-three measures, the highest of the government’s proposed tiered lockdown system. Tier-three measures are expected to include preventing all social contact between different households, restricting overnight stays away from home, and banning organised non-professional sports and communal hobby groups.
The mayor said he expected further discussion with the government on Saturday afternoon, but that he had not been consulted over the decisions.
“Now we are engaged in a conversation that’s telling us that these decisions have been made, so that’s … a conversation, not a consultation,” Anderson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But the main point of the imposition of the measures are clearly that: imposition. We have not been consulted.”
The leader of Gateshead council, Martin Gannon, also criticised the government for leaving local authorities in the north-east of England in the dark about local lockdown restrictions, after ministers failed to take part in a conference call with the leaders on Friday.
Gannon called on the government to cooperate with local councils over the measures.
“Our argument is that even with the mixed messaging, even with the confusion and frustration, the measures that are in at the moment are beginning to work,” he told the Today programme.
“Work with us, give us more time, help us to win confidence and persuade people who want to do the right thing,” Gannon said. “Help us to win confidence to the measures that are currently in, not bring in new measures and get even further resistance and further confusion.”
Gannon also said frequent changes to restrictions had “caused huge resistance and confusion”, with areas in the north-east living under three different sets of restrictions in 10 days.
“Even the prime minister at one stage didn’t have the foggiest idea what actual restrictions he had imposed on the north-east of England,” he said.
A letter from Downing Street sent to MPs in the north-west of England on Friday night said it was “very likely that certain local areas will face further restrictions”.
The letter said the government hoped to “finalise these details as soon as possible”, and was engaging with local authority leaders over the decisions. The letter, sent from Downing Street adviser Sir Edward Lister, acknowledged that the measures “present difficult choices”.
“We must seek to strike the right balance between driving down transmission and safeguarding our economy and society from the worst impact,” it read.
Susan Hopkins, deputy director of Public Health England’s national infection service, said on Saturday morning that cases of coronavirus were increasing more steeply in the north-west, north-east of England and Yorkshire and Humber than in the south.
Hopkins said trends in the north-west were concerning, as the virus was spreading “quite fast now” among over-60s, who are more likely to be admitted to hospital.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: North of England leaders ‘not consulted’ on local Covid lockdowns | World news